Monday, July 23, 2012

My Big Fat French Family

When I was younger, I always wished for some crazy ethnic family. Movies like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" didn't help; who couldn't fall in love with a huge, crazy, ethnic Greek family whose yiayia thought everyone was a Turk? I was in love with the fact that they retained their heritage and closeness. I envied my high school friend John, who is Filipino and has a huge extended network of cousins. And then my ex, John, who is technically first generation German-American, whose Oma I grew close to, whose family I absolutely fell in love with, listening to stories about Germany and trying to absorb as many recipes as possible.

Not until I was an adult did I realize that I was part of a crazy ethnic family myself (emphasis on crazy). Maybe, by virtue of geography, I was too close to it. I am Franco-American. Somewhere, in the wilds of Quebec (or Quebec City, most likely) my mother still has cousins.

Even as an infant, my mom looks like she's ready to yell at one of us kids

So in that picture is my my Nana, my infant mother, and my grandfather, who I never knew (he died long before I was born). Nana grew up speaking French, and always had that little bit of something in her voice. Not an accent. It's hard to explain. But there are a few things you need to know about these crazy Franco-Americans living in Maine, that I've observed from my family, and the families in the area:

1. No one is ever called by their name. In my family alone there was a Penny (Rachel), Pitt (Omer), Button (Regina). Probably more that my mother will enlighten me to once she reads this. I know the French side of my best friend's  family had this phenomenon, too.

2. Prepare to be sworn at in French, especially if you're a man or a dog. Ahh... memories of Mrs. Dubois yelling across the lake at her husband...

3. Don't try to understand Canadian French. I took French in high school (admittedly, I had the worst teacher ever) and I don't understand it. It's a completely different thing. Even the accent. Take the holy grail food, toutiere pie. We pronounce it too-chay, not too-tee-ere (phonetics here are roughed out).

And this next point I think goes for all families regardless of ethnicity or heritage: we get into each other's business. Goodness knows when I go to my cousin's salon I best come with information about my siblings. Hehe. And we're (I'm speaking for my family here) all. fucking. loud. Our volumes are yell and yelling and that kind of drives me insane. How does a family with the hereditary gift of migraines have no volume control?

I love my family though. I wouldn't trade them for anything. Even though they're all fucking crazy.

Stephanie and I are still perfectly sane, though.

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